Centre for Contemporary Political Theory - Research Seminar: "Describing Reality"

We are pleased to welcome Dr Clara Sandelind, from the University of Manchester, to the next Centre for Contemporary Political Theory Research Seminar.


There is an alleged conflict between generous asylum policies and a universal welfare state, which rests largely on empirical concerns. While the question of whether empirical evidence about contingent facts should play a role in empirical theorising has received a lot of attention, less has been said about how political theorists should treat empirical evidence from the social sciences. Often, the issue is simply described as a choice of how much of reality a theorist incorporates into background assumptions of theorising; the so called ‘continuum-view’. The implicit assumption on the continuum-view is that the facts themselves are neutral, or at least that descriptions of reality are not themselves part of normative theorising.

Giving examples from debates within the political theory on migration, I suggest that normative disagreement tend not to be an outcome of how much of reality is presumed, but how reality is described. I specifically address how epistemic biases and silencing of certain interests in descriptions skew normative theorising within this field. Since the asylum/welfare conflict rests so heavily on empirical descriptions, resolving the conflict normatively requires closer attention to those descriptions and what normative conclusions they may implicitly favour.

Speaker bio

Clara Sandelind is a Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Manchester. Prior to that she was a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield and her research interests are in migration, asylum and nationalism.

Registration details

If you wish to join please email:  d.j.edyvane@leeds.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing you there.